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Thursday, 05 April 2018 12:18

Hiking trails are wet but showing signs of spring

Written by Ice Age Trail Alliance Helwig’s hikes

The Tuesday hike report by Jake Gerlach: After overnight rain and cloudy weather only six experienced hikers showed up for our Tuesday hike.

This evening I chose a longer hike. We started out on the connector trail. When we got to the Ice Age Trail we turned right up the hill that never seems to end. While there were plenty of wet spots, we were able to walk on the side of the trail or on the leaves for the most part. When we got to the first cutoff, we continued on the Ice Age Trail for another half mile. Upon entering the pines we took that cut-off. It had been about three years since I had last taken it, but the path was immediately obvious when we entered the pines. The Tuesday hike report by Jake Gerlach: After overnight rain and cloudy weather only six experienced hikers showed up for our Tuesday hike. This evening I chose a longer hike. We started out on the connector trail. When we got to the Ice Age Trail we turned right up the hill that never seems to end. While there were plenty of wet spots, we were able to walk on the side of the trail or on the leaves for the most part. When we got to the first cutoff, we continued on the Ice Age Trail for another half mile. Upon entering the pines we took that cut-off. It had been about three years since I had last taken it, but the path was immediately obvious when we entered the pines.

After a short walk we emerged on the horse trail and headed back. This group walked quite quickly and did not take any breaks. If less experienced hikers show up I slow the pace and take a few breaks. The horse trail is wide but there was quite a bit of wet from the recent rain. Luckily the leaves gave us a lot of protection from the mud.

We stayed on the horse trail until the berms came into view.  Then it was over the berms and down Sherwood Forest Road to the parking lot. The hike had been about 4 miles and everyone thought it was a good choice.
The Wednesday short hike report by Ellen Davis: Jake and I agreed that today’s hike should be someplace relatively free of slippery sticky mud. The obvious choice was the Nordic Ski trails, and 15 short-hikers headed for County Highway H. We regrouped at the trail map, where Jake pointed out our route: out on the orange trail heading north, then a detour on the second blue loop, reconnecting with the orange trail for the return trip.
The trail was damp. We were surprised to find ice remaining in the shady spots — a reminder of the many skiers who use the trails in winter, packing down layer after layer of new snow.  The ice itself was patchy and fairly easy to avoid. Of course there was mud as well, but it was not really an issue on these well-drained trails.

A picturesque stand of white aspens stood out in sharp contrast as we crossed the meadow leading to the first intersection. Our trail then turned sharply right, taking us down a long, steep hill to the beginning of the first blue loop. We passed through another meadow and worked our way up a long hill to find a scenic view across a deep kettle — and a bench from which to admire it.  

We passed through a stretch of prairie and soon we were in the pines, then back in the hardwoods and the hills. Buds were beginning to swell on the young hickories and the bright green leaves of garlic mustard poked through last fall’s oak leaves.

At the next intersection we left the blue trail for the orange to return to the trailhead. Jackets were unfastened or removed as the day grew warmer.

The last section of this trail is easy hiking. Wide and relatively flat, it’s conducive to conversations — something at which our group seems to excel. We talked our way back to the trailhead, and half of our hikers continued their conversations over soup and sandwiches at the La Grange General Store. 

Despite a lack of greenery, this was a scenic and pleasant hike on a crisp early spring day.

The Wednesday long hike report by Marvin Herman: What could be better than a hike on a beautiful early spring morning with temperatures expected to reach 50 degrees? Nothing!  Twenty-three long hikers agreed.
Leader Andy directed us to regroup at Emma Carlin Trails parking area. We headed out on the Ice Age Trail, taking the Blue Spring Lake Segment toward Horse Riders Park near Palmyra.

At some point in the hike, Lynn found some interesting shelf fungi. These make shelves on trees to produce spores above the ground. These mushrooms are generally very tough and woody, hence inedible. 
At Horse Riders Park we stopped for a rest and restroom stop. We then found the “secret steps” up the steep hill to reach the horse trail that would lead us back to the Emma Carlin parking lot via the bike connector trail and the Carlin bike trails.

Soon we could see our destination through the sparse foliage. On the way and quite near the parking area, I heard a chorus of frogs.

Consensus indicated that the total mileage covered was seven miles. This was a moderately strenuous hike over many long hills and deep valleys.

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